Of all the distortions, half-truths and outright lies the BBC has published concerning the Middle East, one of the most egregious is its accounting of the casualties in last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah.
This story about an Israeli Arab who has died from wounds he received in a Hezbollah rocket attack during the war (I won't even get into what that says about Hezbollah's disregard for the lives of the people it claims to be fighting for) contains the following line:
Most of the 159 Israelis killed were soldiers. More than 1,000 Lebanese, most of them civilians, also died in the 34-day war.
The above line, or some variant of it, is inserted like a macro into every story about the Lebanon war that appears on the BBC's website. However, the most basic research shows that the claim that 'most' of the Lebanese casualties were civilians isn't true.
Most estimates, including those from the Lebanese government, the UN and Human Rights Watch put the total number of Lebanese dead – which includes both Hezbollah fighters and civilians – at between 1,000 and 1,200. While the Lebanese government figures didn't distinguish between civilians and fighters, its officials have estimated the number of Hezbollah dead at around 500, a figure with which the UN concurs. Israel claims to have killed at least 600 Hezbollah, while other estimates range from 700 t0 1,000. Links for all of the above references can be found here and here.
It is, of course, impossible to ascertain how many of the Lebanese casualties were civilian and how many were Hezbollah, given that Hezbollah hid and fought among civilians, its fighters often wore civilians clothes, and many of its wounded fighters were evacuated to Syria.
However, what is clear is that around half of the Lebanese casualties were Hezbollah fighters; in fact, if the lower figures for total Lebanese casualties and the upper figures for Hezbollah fighters are nearer the mark, then the majority of Lebanese casualties were Hezbollah. What clearly isn't true is the BBC's mantra that most of the Lebanese casualties were civilians.
The point of this post isn't to rehash the wider debate on civilian casualties in Lebanon or any other war, which has been well aired. The point is to draw attention to the fact that, more than a year after the war, the BBC continues to publish claims about civilian casualties which it must know to be false, and continues to play down the losses inflicted on Hezbollah.
The problems of the Middle East are intractable enough without the BBC – whose reports colour the perceptions of people around the world – constantly and deliberately distorting the debate, and demonising Israel at every turn.
UPDATE: Thanks to Theo Spark for the link, and welcome! I've been at this for exactly a month without attracting much attention, so if you've made it this far please stick around and check out some of my earlier stuff. You'll find amusing pictures of Barack Obama, comedy violence in Iraq, assorted Islamist high-jinks and more global warming hysteria than you can shake a stick at. Enjoy!